By: By David Eldridge
EUROPEAN PLASTICS NEWS
October 22, 2013
DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — The investment support of new owner Hillenbrand Inc. was welcomed by executives at Coperion GmbH (Hall 14/B33) during a news conference at K 2013 October 17th.
"Manufacturing is an area Hillenbrand is already very strong in," said Ulrich Bartel, vice president of compounding machines at Stuttgart, Germany-based Coperion.
In October 2012, Coperion was acquired by Hillenbrand, which is based in Batesville, Ind., which already owned auxiliary equipment makers K-Tron International Inc. and Rotex Global LLC. Hillenbrand bought Coperion from Deutsche Beteiligungs of Frankfurt, Germany, for 408 million euros.
Hillenbrand's strategy is to invest in manufacturing companies that already have a strong performance, Bartel said.
"All their companies are leaders in their part of the industry," he said.
K 2013 has provided a platform for joint product offerings by Coperion and K-Tron, which Hillenbrand has combined into one company. At the show, it is promoting its ability to offer complete customized compounding systems and bulk materials handlings systems from a single supplier.
The merger has "transitioned very well," said Bob Barnett, who was head of marketing at K-Tron and now holds the same role for all Coperion and K-Tron products.
"Coperion and K-Tron have worked together very well for many years. Now it's a closer cooperation," he said.
Barnett was asked if K-Tron had recommended Coperion to Hillenbrand as an acquisition target.
"We fully supported it. It was a very logical step," he said.
The K-Tron name is prominent in group promotion at the moment. On the K 2013 stand, the Coperion and K-Tron names have equal billing. Eventually, though, K-Tron will become simply a brand name for the group's feeding equipment and other compounding auxiliaries.
The investment support of Hillenbrand is clear from last month's opening of a new facility in Stuttgart, which Coperion says is the world's largest compounding test center. The facility replaces the technology company's existing test center and has 20 ZSK extruders for customers to optimize system design for required throughput rate capacity of compounding lines.
Coperion also hopes to benefit from investments in U.S. polymer plants resulting from the country's development of shale gas deposits. The increase in polyolefin production is likely to spur investment in compounding equipment by polymer producers.
"We are positive regarding the North American market," Bartel said. "Several of the investments [in U.S. polymer production] are due to shale gas. But the pellets produced there are not staying in the USA, they are being exported to Asia. That's quite unique because before it was the other way round."
The Coperion group is showing a wide range of equipment at K 2013. At the press conference, Peter von Hoffmann, head of the business unit for engineering plastics and special applications, focused on Coperion's new ZSK 26 Mc18 twin-screw laboratory extruder with 26 millimeter screw diameter.
Von Hoffmann said the machine is the lab version of the ZSK Mc18 extruders for production volumes which Coperion launched at K 2010. The new lab extruder is designed for precision scale-up to production volumes on the ZSK Mc18 machines, said von Hoffmann.
The ZSK 26 Mc18 can also be used for small batch production of compounds and masterbatches. Compared to its predecessor, it is capable of an increase in throughput of up to 100 percent. It is also more energy efficient and requires only a minimum of floor space.
Von Hoffmann said a notable feature of the extruder is that the screw unit can be easily removed and replaced with another unit to handle different types of compounding work. This means the ZSK 26 Mc18 can be converted into a ZSK 27 Mv PLUS with a much larger free volume.
"Configured in this way the extrusion system permits the compounding both of products with high torque requirement and of low bulk density products that require high free volume," the company said. "Conversion merely entails exchanging the process section, which is done with the aid of an assembly trolley."